Bean salads often get a bad reputation—soggy, bland, and unloved at a summer potluck. Often the beans shed their dressing as they sit, leaving unremarkable legumes on top and a puddle of acidic dressing at the bottom of the bowl. Plus, not a single bite tastes as fresh as the produce available when the days are this long and hot.
Enter: the Spanish technique, escabeche, in which a warm ingredient cools in a tangy dressing, drawing flavor into the center of the ingredient as it comes down in temperature. Most often used for fish, this trick works brilliantly for vegetables and beans, leaving each tasting bright and slightly pickle-y. What’s more, the dressing’s acidity helps sidestep an ingredient going off and makes for refreshing, lightning-fast meals in the middle of summer.
This recipe calls for the gigante beans of Spain and Greece, but can be made with royal corona beans or any other broad bean. Similarly, the summer squash and kale can be swapped out for any other vegetable in your crisper that needs to be used up. In August, I feel like my sole job is to eat through as much zucchini as possible but, then again, sometimes it is green beans or peppers or cherry tomatoes or eggplant, all of which would be at home atop these marinated beans.
I like to keep the summer squash in large planks for ease of grilling (and beauty in table presentation), but if you’re making this for a socially distant potluck or work lunch, you can dice the grilled zucchini and combine with the beans and kale for a more traditional—but not sad—summer bean salad. —abraberens
Test Kitchen Notes
Every month, in Eat Your Vegetables, chef, Ruffage cookbook author, and former farmer Abra Berens shares a seasonal recipe that puts vegetables front and center (where they should be!). Missed an installment? Head here to catch up. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 6 to 8
gigante or royal corona beans, soaked overnight
yellow onion, halved
extra-virgin olive oil
lemon, zest and juice
apple cider or red wine vinegar
parsley stems, roughly chopped
dill stems, roughly chopped
medium zucchini and/or summer squash, cut into long wedges or planks
Freshly ground black pepper
kale (any variety), washed, stripped, and cut into ribbons
- Boil the beans with the onion and thyme until cooked through, about 35 minutes (though it might take longer, depending on their age).
- Meanwhile, mix together the shallot, olive oil, mustard, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, honey, and a big pinch of salt.
- Drain the beans and discard the onion and thyme. Immediately dress the still-warm beans with the mustard vinaigrette and chopped herbs, and let cool to room temperature.
- Dress the squash wedges with a hefty drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and grind of black pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until golden brown all over and just starting to soften.
- In a large bowl, massage the kale with a pinch of salt and glug of olive oil until tender.
- When the beans have cooled, taste and add more salt as desired.
- To serve, spoon the beans into a bowl, top with a pile of massaged kale, and then the grilled squash.